Cover art for podcast Deep Listening - Impact beyond words - Oscar Trimboli

Deep Listening - Impact beyond words - Oscar Trimboli

139 EpisodesProduced by Oscar TrimboliWebsite

The world is a noisy place where you fight to be heard every day. Despite the fact that we have been taught at home and at school how to speak, none of us has had any training in how to listen. Multiple academic studies have shown that between 50% and 55% of your working day is spent listening, yet … read more


Listen like a designer - Mike Rohde unleashes the power of listening to customers and end users

Designers understand the importance of drawing, but what about note taking to visually capture ideas, experiences, and information? What really matters in a conversation? Mike Rohde shares how sketchnoting has changed his life. Listening is at the heart of what he learned about it. By listening, Mike is able to form an analysis of what he is hearing to visually draw it. He makes an impact beyond words.

Mike is a user experience designer, author, and creator of a listening language called, Sketchnoting. He comes from a long line of listeners, including his father and mother. From them, Mike learned the value of observing, asking questions, awareness of others, and additional listening skills. Also, a few of his teachers and others at college, including jazz radio disc jockey Howard Austin, helped guide his career. Howard could be tough but understanding. He made Mike strive for quality standards. For example, during college, Mike became passionate about a project for Howard where he researched Leica cameras because he was fascinated by photography. He produced an audio/visual slideshow featuring handmade illustrations. Howard seemed pleased and impressed.Now, Mike’s work stretches across the whole spectrum from user testing to designing an interface to make things look right and work properly.

In this episode, Mike discusses the process of facilitating a group of people to listen to what users and an organization need. The first step is to create a script to test on the users. What do you want to discover about your application? Users are observed using the application and notes and videos are captured. What are the patterns? The information leads designers to finding solutions.

Tune in to Learn

  • It is beneficial to see people using applications and products to determine what works well and what needs to be improved. Discussions are held to find solutions to issues.
  • Mike leads whiteboarding sessions for his team to spend time discussing an application before user testing.
  • Mike shares examples of when end users or staff members had a transformational impact on an application after discussing or testing it.
  • You don’t want end users to struggle with an application and simply give up on using it. Often, it involves listening to what is unsaid. Testing identifies such issues, and lets a team immediately regroup to solve issues and test again.
  • Mike has authored two books: The Sketchnote Workbook and The Sketchbook Handbook. His books help people to listen properly and simplify what they hear when taking notes.
  • Mike had been frustrated about his own notetaking - he was good at it, but hated doing it. He wrote too many details and in too big of a book. He never wanted to reread his notes or analyze them. He discovered tips and tricks, including using a smaller notebook and writing fewer details. He started to analyze and listen to what was valuable enough to be captured. He started to draw pictures instead of writing, which he began to refer to as sketchnoting.
  • Mike discusses the process of printing his books, from understanding the content, deciding how to lay it out, handling production work, and creating illustrations.
  • He wanted to create a community through his sketchnoting books, where he could spread the concept to others and make it adaptable. The community is warm and encouraging - creating a generous spirit. It is a gift and legacy from Mike.

Links and Resources:

Sketchnotes; The Sketchnote Workbook and The Sketchnote Handbook

Leica cameras

Howard Austin at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC)


Listening is the real secret weapon of sketchnoting.- Mike

The trick is you can’t give the answers. When they struggle, you start to see revelations. - Mike

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